Cayin N30LE (Check Availability First)
30 years in audio feels like a lifetime, and the N30LE AKM AK4499EQ hybrid tube/solid-state flagship music player is a fitting milestone of Cayin Audio's anniversary.
Like Cayin's line flagship N8ii DAP but on steroids, the Nutube-built N30LE gives its two prized, rare and out-of-print AK4499EQ DACs from 2018 the CNC-machined titanium-steel alloy platform to shine upon.
N30LE counts on a Hyper Mode, with a power supply built upon an instantaneous EDLC ultracapacitor, to surround said AK4499EQs with an analog stage that is a true statement of Cayin's circuit expertise.
With their unrivalled experience working with Korg's Nutubes, the pair of third-generation 6P1 tubes within can be operated with two flavours of sound – a "Modern" setting emphasising speed and transparency, and "Classic" operation with more warmth and romance.
Cayin placed these tubes in the voltage gain stage once again, where they will exert the most positive influence on N30LE's final sonics. It's the first and the last time Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM)’s legacy AK4499EQs will be leashed to Nutubes, marking an historic moment.
High quality, linear open-loop small signal from Korg's low-capacitance, high-bandwidth Nutubes running on high operating voltages then feeds a potent discrete solid-state power stage that drives your headphones.
Hyper Mode ups the entire operating voltage in the circuit, with a 470mF Electric Double Layer Ultracapacitor (EDLC) capable of discharging DC instantaneously to help reproduce the huge, sudden transients of musical notes into difficult loads.
N30LE's high voltage rails see operating voltages for its power section rise above 7 volts, the linearity of discrete transistors assured as a result. Cayin's discrete headphone amplifier can be operated in Class AB or an optimal Class A, for sonic tweaking with your favourite earphones and headphones.
Differentiating itself from even other flagships that cling to op-amp layouts seeking THX-certification but with inordinate amounts of gain and feedforward/feedback, Cayin's linearity remains excellent already in the open-loop, owing to its high operating voltages and bias.
Those ensure individual transistors are working in optimum condition. Distortion and noise are kept low, without resorting to the excessive use of negative feedback.
Cayin designed a true-balanced differential amplifier to further improve N30LE's linearity, and you can count on common-mode rejection at its best whenever you plug in via 4.4mm preserving its resolution.
It's an output stage that's direct-coupled to improve low-frequency performance, and N30LE audibly plumbs the lowest bass depths. With the extension down low, phase reproduction in the audible human hearing range for taut, hard-hitting and life-like dynamics is excellent.
At the tip of the power stage's spear, unconventionally large output transistors ensure excellent current-handling for good reason, to reap the full benefit of N30LE's overbuilt power supplies for analog and digital sections.
Unfazed driving even the punishing low impedances of Raven, Odin and Legend Evo from Empire Ears, plus the Vision Ears EXT, Subtonic Audio's Storm, Focals, Fostexs and Rosson Audio Designs, Cayin's 30-year tradition building amplifiers that provide actual power as proper voltage sources into halving resistances continues with N30LE.
You'll want to exploit all of N30LE's technical feats by getting as much of your music aboard. So Cayin built in the futuristic Snapdragon 665 SOC and 8GB of RAM to run Android 12 perfectly. A 12,570mAh battery supplies up to 10 hours of use.
Stream 16X Tidal MQA and full Hi-Res Lossless Apple Music at full bit and sample rates with Cayin's Direct Transport Audio OS that bypasses detrimental Android sample-rate conversion.
And in this way, N30LE ensures not just that Cayin's 30th anniversary year keeps getting better, but it also gives AKM's cherished AK4499EQs a fitting farewell as they pass on into history.